Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sherrie (ARTS ’66) and Michael Pollack (ARTS ’64) on How They Fell in Love on the NYU Heights Campus Fifty Years Ago

Sherrie and Michael Pollack at Alumni Day 2016
The Pollacks will be celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary on July 16, 2017. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we sat down with them to find out the secrets to dating on campus, making love last, and their “fifty-year love affair.”

How did you meet?

Michael: Our story starts in the spring of 1963. There were two fraternities on campus which were very active in student government, Phi Epsilon Pi, which I was a member of, and Phi Sigma Delta. Generally each fraternity would have a candidate for each office, and you had to get enough signatures to be included on the ballot. Once that was done, the presidents of each fraternity would meet and determine who would move forward for the election and who would withdraw.

One day, I was in the student center looking for students to sign my petition. I walked in to the newspaper office, and saw this lovely blonde lady sitting at a desk. I asked her if she would sign my petition. She said “no.”

Sherrie: I didn’t know him, and I wasn’t signing his petition. He knew right off the bat…I was a little confrontational.

Michael: I was somewhat taken aback. I told her that it wasn’t as if she would have to vote for me, it was just to get me on the ballot. But I couldn’t persuade her.
Sherrie and Michael Pollack: their story continues

Sherrie: The reason I was in the newspaper office was because I got ads for them. I was the Assistant Business Manager.
Sherrie Pollack in 1964 working at the newspaper
Sherrie in 1964

Michael: I walked out of the newspaper office, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I said to myself, I have got to find a way to meet her under different circumstances and somehow convince her to go out with me. In the summer I was invited to a leadership-training program where we traveled to upstate New York. Our group was made up of eighteen men and four women, since the NYU Heights campus had just started admitting women only a few years earlier. It was a wonderful program and we got back just before orientation started for my senior year, which would be Sherrie’s sophomore year.

On the bus coming back, by chance, I sat next to Karen LeShufy (ARTS ’66) who was Sherrie’s roommate. I got her to agree to invite Sherrie to dinner at the cafeteria with her and me. I had a game plan.

You both worked as editor-in-chief of The Violet, the NYU yearbook. How did that come about?

Michael: In June of 1963, I got a letter from the senior class president and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper announcing that I was selected to be editor-in-chief of the yearbook. It was something of a surprise. I accepted the role of editor-in-chief, but I decided to manage the office differently than my predecessors. I wanted to have a big staff with an executive committee. I invited students who I knew to participate as editors and writers in different areas: sports, fraternities, etc. And I got Barbara Goldman (ARTS ’65) and Cary Sklaren (ARTS ‘64) on the executive committee. But I had one other position I needed to fill – someone to be the Business Manager to get ads. When I sat down to dinner with Karen and Sherrie, I asked Sherrie to join The Violet staff. She agreed to be the Business Manager, and from that our romance blossomed.

Michael Pollack working on The Violet in 1964
Michael working on The Violet in 1964

Sherrie: I always loved business. From the time I was little, I was always interested in saving and managing finances. I wanted to earn money of my own, independent of my parents’ support. During that time, I earned a percentage of the ads I brought in for The Violet. I walked into every local store near the Bronx campus, on Burnside and University Avenues, and asked them if they wanted to place an ad. All of them said yes. (Note: Two years later, Sherrie would be co-editor-in-chief of The Violet with classmate Deedee Goldberg Friedman (ARTS ’66, GBA ’76).)

Deedee Goldberg Friedman and Sherrie Pollack in 1966
Deedee and Sherrie in 1966

What was your experience like dating an upperclassman?

Sherrie: Economics was my field, and I was taking classes with juniors and seniors. Michael was also an Economics major, and if I was having trouble in any of my classes, I used him as a resource.

Michael: It was a wonderful year.

How did you maintain a relationship after Michael graduated?

Michael: There were tensions, because I was concerned about the future and wanted to know that we would get married. Sherrie was concerned with graduating and working.

Sherrie: I was interested in meeting other people and not ready to be tied down.

Michael: In April of 1965, Sherrie broke it off, but we stayed in touch. We had previously planned to spend the summer together working on a business venture. I’d noticed in Boston that they had books of discount coupons for local businesses (restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) that they sold to college students, and I thought that we could do something similar in New York. We partnered together to get local businesses on board during the summer, and we got 65 coupons for the book. Boston is a heavy college town, more so than New York, and the business model did not end up working very well in practice.

Sherrie: But it was a wonderful experience, and very good learning experience for me.

Michael: At the end of the summer, I started dating someone new, but Sherrie and I were still in touch. She would ask me about my new relationship, and I told her that I was teaching her how to play tennis. Sherrie said, “You never taught me how to play tennis.” So, then Sherrie and I started playing tennis together, and slowly started dating again.

For Thanksgiving, I was planning to be in New York for the holiday. Sherrie invited me to stop off at her dorm, Silver Hall, on my way back. Sherrie was dressed to kill, and couldn’t have been sweeter. In my heart of hearts I knew I loved this woman. I knew that I wanted to be engaged by the end of the summer.

Sherrie: And he knew that I still wanted to work in finance. I had a good job as the Financial Analyst at Chemical Bank in the Garment District. I was one of only two women working in the bank at that time.

Michael: We got engaged in August 1966, then we got married two days after I took the bar exam.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Michael: We went out west for three weeks and ended our trip in Las Vegas. When we were at Yosemite National Park there were two hikes possible, a four-mile hike or an eight-mile hike, or a 27-mile drive, all ending in the same place. It didn’t occur to us that the four-mile hike would be very steep, we just picked it because it was shorter.

Sherrie: A ranger told us that the four-mile trail was easy, so we thought we could do it. And I was prepared. I packed water and snacks for the hike. Then three miles up the mountain, I sat down and told Michael I wasn’t going any further. I didn’t really want to go back down either. I told him to get a helicopter. I didn’t care where it landed, I just wasn’t hiking any more. Then, all of a sudden, an elderly woman appeared on the trail, walking down by herself. She said to me “Sweetheart, it is not that much further. You will get up to the top and it will be beautiful. Then you will get someone with a car to give you a lift back down the mountain.” And that’s what we did. And it ended up being one of the best hikes we ever took, and we’ve done a lot of hikes since then.

What was your first year of married life like?

Michael: The first job I got was at Harvard Medical School in a legal capacity, which meant that we had to move to Boston.

Sherrie: Boston is great and I loved it, but it’s not New York. I got a job as a financial analyst at a bank in Boston, but it was a frustrating work situation. We spent a year living there in a four-floor walk up, and the fact that we survived that year meant we could survive anything together.

Michael: I was very fortunate to get a job offer from United Artist Pictures, so we moved back to New York. That started a 37-year career for me in the entertainment industry. I spent six years working in motion pictures, and 31 years in the record industry.

Sherrie: When we moved back to New York, I continued working. I spent ten years teaching nursery school, which I loved. I was a paralegal for a few years, and I taught special education in a junior high in Port Washington for ten years.

Michael: We now have two wonderful children, Jennifer and Andrew, who have their own spouses and children. They all live in the New York area, and we feel very blessed. To me, our marriage has been a fifty-year love affair.

Sherrie: Family is everything. We have four grandchildren who we get to see frequently. We have our own traditions. For over 40 years, we have gone apple picking together at an orchard in Connecticut. When I retired, I took a chocolate-making class, and I started making customized chocolates for my children and grandchildren’s birthdays and bar mitzvahs. That’s what I love to do.

What is your advice for other couples?

Michael: We do some things together. We do some things separately. You need time and space apart to make a marriage work.

Sherrie: The most important thing is love and respect. And never go to bed angry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.